The government of any country is without doubt the single largest institution that can affect the quality of life of its citizens. Efficient delivery of public services in Africa and other developing regions has for a long time been hindered by highly centralized government bureaucracies. One of the key reforms is the establishment of devolution through the country’s government.
The government has over the years initiated several reforms aimed at strengthening local government institutional capacity to effectively manage their revenues and expenditures, improve service delivery, enhance economic governance and promote citizen participation in poverty-reducing projects. One such initiative is the establishment of a fund to rationalize the central-local financial relations by providing resources and incentives to local authorities to improve service delivery, financial management and debt reduction.
The primary motivation for the introduction of the new approaches has been the realization that past initiatives to decentralize resources to local authorities had not yielded concrete results, especially in lifting the population out of poverty, primarily because the authorities were riddled with corruption and management inefficiencies, a situation that still persists. In particular, local authorities continue to have inadequate and ineffective oversight from the central government as well as from the beneficiaries of the services they provide. The central government has recently been experimenting with the decentralization of the management of various service delivery systems so as to involve local communities in the management of these systems. These new management initiatives should make local authorities more accountable and efficient
Devolution or decentralization is the transfer of powers from the central government to local units consisting of the president, ministers, senator, governor, and members of parliament. Devolution can take various forms;
a) Administrative - For example the establishment of Government Offices for the Regions, or, the practice of transferring responsibilities from central government departments to territorial departments of the same Government.
b) Executive - where the prerogative powers of the Government are transferred to ministers of devolved governments, usually under statutory authority.
c) Legislative - where law-making powers are transferred to other legislatures.
Devolution to county governments is perceived as an important measure to ensure the fair distribution of resources throughout the country and reduce the role of ethno-regional factionalism in national politics. According to devolution and decentralization, state power is executed at both the national and county level with the objects of “fostering national unity by recognizing diversity” and ensuring equitable sharing of resources.
One of the objects and principles of a devolved and decentralized government is to recognize the right of communities to manage their own affairs and further their development. This gives the people a sense of identity and self-empowerment. This is because they feel recognized in their contribution to the growth of their own county. Another principle is to protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalized communities. Hence the minorities will not feel sidelined. This promotes a sense of unity as they do not feel as though their needs have been ignored.
EFFECTS OF DEVOLUTION AND DECENTRALISATION
With the central powers moving closer to the people, the people are more confident in the government. This is because when they voice their concerns they are heard and consequently decisions made faster. Taking into consideration the hierarchy needs, they are able to move on to the next level since their current needs have been met. This can also promote peace since there are lesser cases of strikes and other rebellious acts.
Looking at the goals of development to be met by the county, there can be increased employment opportunities. This can lead to a better standard of living of the people.
Currently with inflation at its highest rate ever and increased unemployment since firms are laying off workers, many people have been unable to make ends meet and a significant number of people especially those settling in the slums are hopeless. This is evident as most of them result to drinking cheap alcohol which has caused death and blindness of its consumers.
Other positive effects include;
· Aspect of subsidiarity. Having the powers move from the state authority to the county levels people are assured to be heard if they voice their concerns.
· There is equal distribution of resources.
· Development of individual counties.
· It leads to economic growth of the country as a whole.
· It lead to increased employment through creation of new posts and for the development goals of the county to be met, labour will be required.
· It eases the burden of the central government since the work will have been delegated.
· Decisions will be made faster.
· Falling levels of poverty and improving employment rates across the country
· It leads to disunity. This is because a county will be dominated by people from the same ethnic community.
· It will promote ethnicity.
· Corruption might worsen.
· There might be excessive taxation
· It is an expensive form of government.
· It leads to conflict within ethnic group- clanism. This may be as a result of nepotism whereby the leader favours those who are closest to him or her.
· Some areas have inadequate resources to exploit hence they may continue to lag behind.
DEVOLUTION AND DECENTRALIZATION
Major constraints that inhibited the realization of the intended effects of this decentralization and participatory planning strategy through the attempt to institutionalize community ownership of development programs and projects (bottom-up planning) is the absence of an appropriate legal framework to facilitate decision making and to mobilize resources. The organizational framework put in place are bureaucratic and give the county administration unchecked powers that negated the anticipated participation by local people. However, any constitutional wholesale devolution of authority to the district and a subsequent creation of a regional “development service entity” to replace the “district as a focal unit” would make the district redundant as a planning unit.
The program of decentralization when implemented it can act as a measure to counter the rise in poverty and to fight other socioeconomic problems associated with declining performance of the economy. It can be designed to reduce rapid urbanization rate and to curb high levels of urban unemployment. The significant weaknesses in the application of the growth-centers program include, such as political interference in the selection of center sites, inadequate involvement of stakeholders, predetermined infrastructure, co-ordination problems, and lack of adherence to project completion deadlines.
The urgent need to achieve high economic growth, reduce income disparities and other poverty-related inequalities, Kenyans have persistently pushed for enhanced decentralization of development initiatives. Devolution of governance to the districts is the most viable way to support the country’s development efforts. The districts are favored as the focal points for managing development initiatives because they are believed to have the structures, the systems and the experience in the planning, budgeting and implementation (as well as monitoring and evaluation) of development programs. What limits is resources available to support devolved units of governance, and carries out an analysis of the necessity for self-reliance governance at local levels, and identification of structures for community participation in decision-making at the district level.
Based on decentralization and democratic governance principles, options that can be adopted in order for decentralization and devolution to achieve the cardinal goals of equitable resource distribution and good governance is through devolution to viable units, including granting adequate fiscal authority to local government units, and via an equitable sharing of national resources between central and local government. By strengthening local governance units and enhancement of stakeholder inclusion in the programming of development projects can help in achieving devolution.
Costs attributed to devolution and decentralization are not new costs as there are already budgets for districts, including for county councils and some of the items of the existing central government budget are transferred to decentralized governments.
Through devolution and decentralization the county governments are given power to;
· Raise Revenue.
· Collecting of Revenue
· The power to spend revenue.
CHALLENGES TO DEVOLUTION AND DECENTRALIZATION
However much agreeable this seems, the financial aspect of this is between various arms of government and the stakeholders involved. With devolution there is a clear dispute between the ministries of Finance and the Local Government over the management of the revenue of national and county governments. The local government may also hatch a long-term scheme to suppress county governments and leave the control of finances in the hands of the central government. This would ideally defeat the whole concept of devolution and decentralization.
Decentralization of the country into counties without the power to control their own finances is reduction of decentralized government to mere political and administrative units. Arguably, this would end up negating the whole idea of devolution of the country into counties with more efficient financial management systems.
It is a burden on tax payer’s money. This is because there will be too many leaders who will definitely expect a high pay. Hence important needs of the country may not be met or for them to be catered for there might be excessive taxation.
Other challenges to the applicability of devolution and decentralization include;
· The country is currently in debt as a result of misappropriation of funds therefore decentralization may not be functional as such.
· The current leaders are not reliable and the chances of them going back to power at decentralized offices are high.
· The issue of corruption has not been dealt with as it should therefore with creation of new state offices through devolution there will be an increase in corruption cases.
· Poor system of governance that is not accountable. Currently the CDF’s are not using the allocated funds appropriately.
Every living being with free will and self-movement seeks to find what is best for him and the community. If every individual would have the common good within them, then without doubt we would reap the positive effects of devolution. By decentralization there will be closer leaders’ people interaction, there will be equitable distribution of resources and communities will be able to manage their own affairs and to further their development.
Implementing decentralization will be expensive. Whether the country will be able to afford this form of government or not will solely rely on the type of leadership we have. The issue of corruption has not been dealt with as should and people fear that it will move from the national level and onto the county level which will be worse than before. Moreover, the country has an exceptionally high corruption index, and its social development indicators lag far behind indicators for other low-income countries. With macroeconomic, political and legal reforms when put in place it will form a comprehensive and consistent operational framework for enhancing the performance of the economy. The aforementioned new approaches to planning, budgeting, and financial management may be viewed as a response by government to external and internal pressure groups to make public managers more accountable in the utilization of development funds. There are also fears that to cater for this new form of government will lead to excessive taxation.
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· Devolution. ( 17th September 2011) en.wikipedia.org/wiki
· Restructuring the Kenyan State. ( 17th September 2011),
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